Why A Science Of Freedom?


0:00      I. The Enlightenment Vision
4:28       A. What Is Lacking In Western Civilization?
6:54       B. The Science Of Freedom
9:03     II. The Meaning Of Real Freedom
14:37     A. Nature Versus Nurture
16:19     B. The Impulse Of Freedom
20:45     C. Why The Philosophy Of Freedom Failed
26:42   III. Tactics To Win The Culture War
28:27    A. Jordan Peterson
30:29    B. What You Can Do

"Science Breakthrough Verifies Rudolf Steiner's Impulse Of Freedom"


The Enlightenment was a philosophical movement in the 18th century known as the "Century of Philosophy." Western civilization was built on the ideas of Enlightenment philosophers who argued for a society based on reason, a science based on observed evidence, and ethics based on the universal ideals of liberal humanism.

The Enlightenment vision is that a free people will build a better society.

When individuals are allowed to choose their careers, own property, and enter their own contractual agreements with others in a free market the result is a very productive economic system. When individuals acquire the powers of scientific thinking the result is a better grasp of the objective world and an increase of technological innovation. When individuals hold Enlightenment liberal values that emphasize freedom of thought, freedom of expression, universal human rights and equal opportunity the result is human development.

The best example of a free society is America. The Statue Of Liberty was created as a symbol of liberty spreading outward from America. The beacon of freedom has attracted generations of immigrants who attained their own version of success through sacrifice, risk-taking and hard work. Most Americans love freedom and stand up for individual rights and a free society. But there are others who label love of our free society as some kind of threat.

Postmodern philosophers rejected the Enlightenment vision that free people will build a better society. Postmodernism is a reaction to the Enlightenment vision’s claims of progress. They say it has all been revealed to be a fraud.

Capitalism has produced a great amount of wealth but it has gone to a small group at the top. Technology has not improved our lives. Instead technology is damaging human relationships, developing weapons and destroying the environment. Individualism is merely a mask that covers our real identity defined by our culture and economic background. The social justice movement is based on this kind of postmodern thought. They are upset that everyone is expected to bow down before the truths of science. Why should the truths of science be held above other ways of viewing the world?

Social justice activists reject the enlightenment commitment to a free society. This has today erupted into a Culture War between the vision of a free society and the Social Justice call for a revolution to institute fairness and equality.

Social justice activists say a free society will never solve the problems of class division, sexism and racism. Capitalism will never distribute the wealth equally. Equal opportunity will never result in equal outcome. Free speech will never end hate speech. And a merit system will never end personal failure. The problem with a free society is that it produces winners and losers. They say it is unfair to expect members of disadvantaged groups to compete in a free society because of individual and institutional discrimination. Social Justice activists want to replace our merit-based society with an entitlement society.

Rudolf Steiner disagreed. Everyone faces their own barriers to success. The skills and character needed to compete in a free society are developed by dealing with any obstacles that get in the way.

"Individuals should assert themselves in a fully free battle of competition. The present state has no sense for this battle of competition. It hinders the individual at every step in the unfolding of his abilities."
1898 Rudolf Steiner letter to John Henry Mackay

The challenge of a competitive society is necessary to develop individual potential. Steiner trusted people. He believed that if you give people the freedom to find their own way it will result in the best situation.


This may come as a surprise but Rudolf Steiner agreed with the postmodernists that something was indeed lacking in Western civilization. As a libertarian though he certainly did not believe that the problem was freedom. Long ago in the 1890’s he was already aware of the decline of western civilization. He wrote The Philosophy Of Freedom to try and stop it.

In the premodern age knowledge was based on religious faith, mysticism and superstition. The modern age changed that by placing the various fields of knowledge on a solid scientific foundation of evidence, reason and peer review. But there was one significant exception and that was the field of philosophy. There is no science of philosophy. This has led to a steady decline of interest in what philosophers have to say. Daniel Dennett said that “a great deal of philosophy doesn’t really deserve much of a place in the world” and has become “self-indulgent clever play in a vacuum that’s not dealing with problems of any intrinsic interest.”

Philosophical ideas lack the certainty of science since they are proposed without much evidence. Western civilization was built on the ground of Enlightenment philosophers which is no longer a stable foundation. What was needed was a ‘science of philosophy’ to put the philosophical ideas of the Enlightenment on a solid scientific foundation. What was needed was a ‘science of freedom’.

“When we look at the present epoch and the new trends we perceive that what is lacking is precisely what The Philosophy of Freedom seeks to achieve. On a basis of freedom of thought The Philosophy of Freedom establishes a science of freedom which is fully in accord with natural science, yet reaches beyond it.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI:
Brief Reflections on the Publication of the New Edition of 'The Philosophy of Freedom'

Every significant philosopher has presented a theory of freedom since the time of the Greeks without any one of them gaining a consensus of support. The question of freedom cannot be settled by philosophical argument. So how can we expect to build a free society if no one agrees on what it really means to be free?


Rudolf Steiner recognized that a clear knowledge of freedom was necessary to cultivate free ethical individuals and to build a free society. So he devoted himself to establishing a science of freedom that would be developed using the methods of science. He published his results in The Philosophy Of Freedom in 1894. The subtitle of The Philosophy Of Freedom states that the book is the result of scientific research. It was “A Modern Philosophy Of Life Developed By Scientific Methods.” The Philosophy Of Freedom is a ‘science of philosophy’ in that it provides observable evidence to support philosophical views.

The Philosophy Of Freedom is the foundation of a new branch of science, the science of freedom. Its method is philosophic based on psychological observation. Its style is the way cognitive theory was expressed in that time.

One of the reasons it is difficult to read is that it is written in the style needed to convince 19th century German philosophers. But the philosophical views are backed up by introspective observations of the mind. This was only possible because of Steiner’s keen observation skills and mental discipline to accurately describe his inner experience.

“I was not setting forth a doctrine but simply recording inner experiences through which I had actually passed. And I reported them just as I experienced them.”
1894 Rudolf Steiner letter to Rosa Mayreder

Anyone of good will and the willingness to study the book and observe their own cognitive processes can understand and verify his findings.

None of us are fully free. The path of freedom is a gradual step by step awakening process of increasing inner self-awareness and then having the courage to outwardly express oneself.


In the late 19th century the new powers of scientific thinking exponentially accelerated the growth of technology. Technology was having a dramatic effect on social and political life. People were moving to the cities, buying more goods
and had more time to pursue life’s pleasures. New cultural trends threatened Enlightenment values. A new materialistic attitude was emerging. This was the period of the Gay 90's when individuals began making more of their own moral choices.

With the growth of cities there was an ideological shift toward collectivism and away from self-reliant individualism and personal responsibility. Collectivist thinking rapidly increased the size and power of government. The Socialist Party in America was formed in 1897. New technology also made it possible for mass media to start manipulating opinions through magazines, radio and movies.

A strong commitment to freedom was needed if individual rights were to be protected in a time of rapid social and political change. Steiner warned that if we don’t have a clear understanding of the meaning of real freedom, freedom will eventually be understood to mean license.

“For if freedom without the solid foundation of a science of freedom were regarded as real freedom, then, in an age when evil is gaining ground, freedom would of necessity lead not to liberty, but to license.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI

License is unrestrained or excessive freedom such as that which causes harm to others. It means you are free to do whatever you want without restraint or personal responsibility. Many freedom lovers don’t like to hear this but real freedom requires a disciplined mind.

“What is necessary for the present epoch when freedom must become a reality can only be found in the firm inner discipline of thinking, in genuine scientific thinking.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI

The basis of a science of freedom is freedom of thought. Thinking is a tool for gaining knowledge and giving meaning. To do this well thinking must undergo training to emancipate knowing. Otherwise habitual thoughts, cognitive bias and the emotions distort our view of the world. Students receive thought training in science and technology programs such as biology, chemistry, physics, math, engineering and computing. The study of The Philosophy Of Freedom is also an excellent way to discipline thinking.

Without disciplining the mind to think scientifically it is difficult to make moral decisions. How can we make responsible decisions if our thinking distorts our reality of the objective world? We need scientific thinking to grasp the reality of personal life situations and to predict the consequences of our deeds. Truth is empowering and makes one effective.

Many today place a higher value on personal feelings than the pursuit of truth. Whether something is believed or not has more to do with how you feel about it than whether it is true. By allowing emotions to dominate thinking one can fall into impulsive compassion. This is when reason is overwhelmed by undifferentiated empathy. The place for undifferentiated empathy is in the care of an infant that isn’t capable of doing anything for itself. But it doesn’t work in most other cases.

The Philosophy Of Freedom was written by one who loved truth.

“(The Philosophy Of Freedom) does not claim to offer the only possible way to truth, but is meant to describe the path taken by one for whom truth is central.”
The Philosophy Of Freedom 0.6

If we do not develop a science of freedom Steiner gave an even more serious warning. It could mean the end of human development and cultural progress if the culture war is lost.

“If this science of freedom does not receive the same intensive cultivation accorded other sciences,
freedom will be irretrievably lost both by society and by the individual."

1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI

I don’t believe that there can be a more serious threat to humanity than to forever lose freedom. Today 100 years after Steiner republished The Philosophy Of Freedom in 1918 Western civilization still lacks a science of freedom. And we are on our way to losing the ability to think freely. We now have a world full of NPC’s who do not think for themselves but merely obey others. An NPC is an internet meme of a human being that simply repeats arguments and slogans given to them by someone else. The NPC meme became very popular because it was expressing a truth that many people lack critical thinking skills. Rather than producing critical thinkers social justice universities are now producing NPCs.


As Steiner predicted without a science of freedom, freedom is understood to mean license.

In the premodern age when the church was dominant it placed moral restraints on freedom. Free will was accepted as a matter of faith. It was necessary to believe in free will, otherwise, how could you hold someone morally responsible for their actions? But religious faith lacks the empirical evidence that science demands to prove that freedom exists.

Religious faith and philosophical argument could not settle the question of freedom. And empirical research was not able to locate freedom. But the scientists did find other factors that determined human behavior. They found evidence to support biological determinism and cultural determinism. This led to a vigorous "Nature Versus Nurture" debate in Steiner’s time.

The Enlightenment emphasized reason and science so it is ironic that the biggest threat to Enlightenment freedom ended up being science, scientific determinism. Steiner entered the debate by confronting scientific determinism in the opening sentence of The Philosophy Of Freedom.

“Is a human being free in thought and action, or compelled by the unyielding necessity of natural law?”
The Philosophy Of Freedom 1.0

You can’t have free will without free thought. The human being is unique in its ability to reflect, think and envision new possibilities and thus consciously originate the law that determines one’s conduct. Steiner presents the missing empirical evidence to support self-determinism as a lived experience.

“The underlying purpose of The Philosophy of Freedom was to seek freedom in the empirical, in lived experience, a freedom which at the same time should be established on a firm scientific foundation.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI

Steiner’s case for freedom is based on having an experience of what he called the ‘impulse of freedom’.

"I wrote The Philosophy of Freedom in order to give mankind a clear picture of the idea of freedom, of the impulse of freedom, which must be the fundamental impulse of our age (and which must be developed out of the other fragmentary impulses of various kinds.) To this end it was necessary first of all to establish the impulse of freedom on a firm scientific basis. Therefore the first section of the book was entitled ‘Knowledge of Freedom."
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI


Steiner described his idea of freedom as an ‘impulse of freedom’. An impulse is a sudden strong feeling to do something. We are driven by many nature impulses such as animal, biological and survival impulses. And there are upbringing impulses that are conditioned by family, society and culture. There are consumer impulses, emotional and habitual thinking impulses and so on.

What is significant is that the impulse of freedom is stronger than all the other competing impulses.
The power of this impulse is what makes freedom possible.

The impulse of freedom experience enhances thinking, increases intelligence, improves focus, increases energy, and makes one more tolerate and compassionate.

• enhances thinking
• increases intelligence
• improves focus
• increases energy
• makes one more tolerate
and compassionate

If human evolution is to continue the fundamental driving force of our age must be this enhanced thinking experience of the freedom impulse. Otherwise we will all eventually become NPC’s likely controlled by artificial intelligence.

Steiner also describes the region of the mind where the impulse of freedom originates.

“I attempt to show how this view fully justifies the idea of freedom of the will, provided that one finds the region of the mind where free will can develop… no theoretical answer is given that, once acquired, is simply carried as a conviction preserved by memory… rather, reference is made to a region of mind experience in which, through the soul’s inner activity, the question answers itself in a living way, always anew, whenever a human being needs it.”
1918 new preface to The Philosophy Of Freedom

To simply give a definition of freedom is not likely to change a person’s life. Experiencing the ‘impulse of freedom’ is life changing. It justifies the idea of free will.

Free will originates in the region of pure conceptual thinking. This is the place of empowering creative insights that makes freedom possible. This is not to deny that most people have already had this experience. But by becoming more aware of it, knowing where to go to find it, and how to develop it means the experience will happen more often.

Since we are dealing with a ‘science’ of freedom we should expect that other researchers, over time, would uncover more evidence. This has happened. For example, a few years ago cognitive scientists empirically verified Steiner’s descriptions of the ‘impulse of freedom’ experience. Using brain scanning technology they recorded empowering intuitive insights of enhanced thinking that occurred within the conceptual thinking region of the brain. I did a video about it called "Science Breakthrough Verifies Rudolf Steiner's Impulse Of Freedom". It is a must watch video.


Several decades after publication it already became clear that The Philosophy Of Freedom had failed to influence society. Steiner blamed the failure of The Philosophy Of Freedom on laziness. He was overly optimistic about the effort readers were willing to make. He challenged the reader because he wanted study to be an awakening experience. Instead the readers fell asleep.

“In The Philosophy of Freedom, readers have to keep shaking themselves to avoid being put to sleep by the thoughts they encounter. One has to try with all of one’s human strength to activate one’s inner being, to bring one’s whole thinking into motion.”
1919 Goetheanism as an Impulse for Man's Transformation - Lecture III: Clairvoyant Vision Looks at Mineral, Plant, Animal, Man

The first step to developing a science of freedom was for people to understand the book. Today this has became an almost insurmountable barrier. Anyone who has read the book will confirm how difficult it can be to connect the various thoughts into a coherent whole.

“The first thing that my contemporaries found unpalatable in my book The Philosophy of Freedom was this: they would have to be prepared, first of all, to fight their way through to a knowledge of freedom by self-disciplined thinking.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI

Steiner expected the reader to fight their way through the book to grasp the idea of freedom. In fact the only way to understand the book was to be awakened by the same experience of thinking that is described in the book. This was the genius of Steiner. The proper study of the book becomes an actual experience of the enhanced thinking that you are reading about.

This was done in two ways. First, by immersing yourself in the universal concepts of philosophy you enter the realm of pure conceptual thinking. Freed from the ruts of everyday thinking this is the place where creative thoughts originate.

Second, Steiner structured the thoughts in the book to kindle thought evoking questions. Many views of a topic are presented in each chapter and the reader is left to freely draw their own conclusions.

Study is intended to be an experience of “inner shocks, tensions and resolutions.” The reader completes the book with intuitive insights, living answers that are experienced “always anew”. For example, I have reread a paragraph numerous times
and each time gained new insights into its meaning and connection with other thoughts. But few people understood this well enough or cared enough to make the effort necessary to reach this experience of living thinking.

Steiner also blamed the failure of the book on the laziness of the career professionals that influence the way people think.

“I always found a measure of support. But hitherto everything has failed owing to the indolence of the learned professions, the scientists, doctors, lawyers, philosophers, teachers, etc. on whom the workers ultimately depend for their knowledge.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI

In Steiner’s time people looked to the well-educated and respected professions for knowledge. But the educators were comfortable and secure with establishment knowledge and did not want to make the effort to work through The Philosophy Of Freedom.

Today in the post-truth era it is much worse. For example, the social justice movement’s success is the result of the repetition of slogans, clueless celebrities, biased media coverage and Marxist university professors.

A better example of respected influencers is the advocacy of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of freedom. Credible institutions, organizations, academic papers, movies, documentaries, study courses, a lexicon and websites clearly present her freedom philosophy to others. As a result Ayn Rand’s view of the human ideal as a selfish individual has had a significant influence on people and society. If Rudolf Steiner’s view of the human ideal had been properly presented people today may be discussing the ethical individualist rather than the selfish individualist. Without organized support Rudolf Steiner’s ethical individualist remains unknown.

I have posted a study guide at philosophyoffreedom.com to help get the word out but it is a small contribution to what is needed.


We entered the 20th century without a science of freedom. Instead the ‘nature and nurture’ view of the human being went in two directions; further research into genetic determinism and the acceptance of cultural determinism. Genetic engineering is going in the horrifying direction of designer babies and human cloning. Cultural determinism became the basis of quack collectivist social theories that will never work yet are still being pushed even after the tragic consequences of 20th century communism and socialism.

Today’s social justice movement is just another quack solution to the problems of society based on the various group identities formed by cultural determinism.

What can freedom activists do to end the threat of social justice identity politics by winning the culture war?

Steiner said the worst possible direction we can take is to “perpetually grumble” about what parties have done or how they treat people. In his time he suggested 3 tactics in the fight against the rise of socialism.

The 1st tactic is to determine whether the claims of social injustice are true.

The 2nd is to ask, If you follow the path indicated by the social justice worldview, will you attain what you seek to achieve in life?

The 3rd tactic is for people to understand how the world will be transformed if real freedom were understood and established. Steiner was convinced that the light will dawn for an ethical individualist. And then “you will attain what you seek to achieve and much else besides.”

“Mankind must realize how the world would be transformed if the meaning of freedom were understood, freedom, not in the sense of license, but freedom born of a free spirit and a firmly disciplined mind. If people understood what freedom and its establishment would signify for the world, then the light that many seek today would lighten the prevailing darkness of our time.”
1918 Rudolf Steiner From Symptom To Reality in Modern History Lecture VI

It is free spirits with disciplined minds who will bring light to the darkness of our times and transform the world. Such a free spirit is Jordan Peterson.


Jordan Peterson is fighting the culture war in the 3 ways Steiner suggested.

First Dr. Peterson has shown how many claims of injustice are just not true. Social justice claims such as the women’s pay gap, that gender is a social construct, and diversity increases creativity have been debunked.

Second he has warned us that the social justice movement will make it more difficult to attain what we want to achieve in life. If you prioritize the general concerns of your cultural identity group it will not actually help you achieve your own goals. Much of Dr. Peterson’s work is about how to be successful in life which begins by building character and putting your life in order. Individual freedom will be limited in a society based on social justice. It will require a more controlling totalitarian society to enforce social justice goals such as equally distributing the wealth. Dr Peterson warns that we are already witnessing the beginning of social justice totalitarianism in the censorship and deplatforming of free speech and the building of a network of informants to report politically incorrect behavior. To reap the rewards of your hard work, a merit system is needed. The justice activists are replacing merit with affirmative action quotas where everyone suffers including the under qualified applicant.

And third Dr Peterson has taught why it is necessary to respect the sovereignty of the individual for it is the independent thinking free individual that brings the light of creative ideas and ethical deeds to society.


Hopefully it’s not too late for The Philosophy Of Freedom to fulfill its unique role in the culture war. I recently watched a YouTube video by “The Distributist” that describes 9 archetypal roles that are needed to get a movement going forward. These roles can be filled by anyone with the inclination and some talent.

I see my own role as ‘The Intellectual’. The intellectual references the ideas of someone else, like Steiner. Every field has its own nomenclature of terms to provide a common language. Philosophy Of Freedom terms such as ethical individualism, the impulse of freedom, moral imagination, moral technique and the harmony of intentions need to be understood so Steiner’s ideas can be discussed and applied. The other roles needed to support a resurrection of The Philosophy Of Freedom are called The Ambassador, The Artist, The Engineer, The Archivist, The Educator, The Host, and The Networker.

If there is interest a loosely organized online work group could be hosted on the philosophyoffreedom.com website for those who want to see Steiner’s science of freedom have the social impact he hoped for. You can use the contact link on the website to express your interest or send me a suggestion.